It’s summer ‘17. Turn on the radio and you might hear «New Rules» or «Wild Thoughts» or «Despacito». Prince Harry is busy jetting off to Botswana with his getting-serious girlfriend Meghan Markle. A massive influencer-filled music festival on a private Bahamian island turns out to be a massive influencer-filled scam. We’re laughing at distracted boyfriend memes, we’re drinking Unicorn Frappuccinos, we’re eating…zoodles? And everyone—yes, everyone—has nails tipped with Essie Clambake.
The not-quite-orange, not-quite-red shade wasn’t new, but garnered a slow-burn popularity that burst aflame four years ago. 2017 was the year ITG dubbed it “The Nail Color Of The Summer,” thanks to its “perfect hue; equal parts lobster tail and blood orange mimosa, with a dash of Clamato to taste.” As soon as the first buds would pop up on the trees outside our apartments, we’d see Clambake on cool girls, fashion insiders, and everyone else. Remarkably, no matter how many people we saw it on, it never got tired. Two years later, The Strategist would ask “What’s the Next Status Nail Polish?” citing Clambake as an example not for its luxury price tag (it’s always been a drugstore buy) but sheer ubiquity amongst women in the know.
And then, as sudden as the first cold day after months of blistering heat, it vanished. Essie discontinued the cult shade later that year, relegating diehard fans to online buy-sell-trade message boards and “RARE” Ebay listings in search of Clambake. For the first time since, Essie is re-releasing it for a limited time, exclusively at CVS. It’s their most requested shade on social media, and with everyone well in the swing of at-home manis, they figured they’d throw us a bone.
Now, it is not 2017 and it is not (yet!) summer. But if you consider that we’re already past the worst month of spring and the weather in New York is supposed to be a sunny 66 degrees today, it’s basically summer. And anyway, summer isn’t the point—it’s the fantasy of summer, a perfectly hued dream of beachside bonfires and melty ice cream cones and small children in gingham seersucker. In 2017 we escaped into the fantasy of Clambake, and in 2021, Clambake’s back, baby. We’re stocking up.
Photo via ITG